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The terms “contentment” and “discontentment” have become Christian buzz words.
I often hear people respond to the question “How are you?” by saying, “I’m content.” It’s the new “I’m fine.”
Discontentment isn’t a word reserved just for single people or the poor or those with health issues. Discontentment is a real sin issue for all believers, caused by the lack of belief that God isn’t enough. It can’t be fixed by gifts, relationships, promotions, or by any temporary satisfaction.
I can’t get no . . . satisfaction
When I ponder over my life, I can easily identify seasons of struggle with discontentment. It’s taken many different forms in my life and often creeps back in. From college into my mid-20’s, I struggled with this fear that I was going to be single, and I didn’t—and still don’t want—to be. I became discontent when I began to look to relationships to bring satisfaction to my life. It wasn’t until after a heartbreak that I saw that the Lord was enough in that area of my life. In that season of my life, I worshiped the thought of marriage; I longed to be married more than I longed for our gracious God.
My struggle with discontentment continues in my life—from relationships to success to a house down to a pair of shoes. There are times that I have tried to place temporary satisfaction and value in these things. Each time I’ve faced the sin of my discontentment, I’ve wanted a quick fix. Like buying a pair of shoes is really going to fulfill me. But in moments, I honestly believed it would. Instead, I needed to repent from putting hope in temporal things.
I know very well what it looks like in my life to be discontent. What are you looking to aside from God to give you satisfaction?
The meaning of contentment
Being content doesn’t mean that you never have a vision or desire for anything in your life. One of the biggest misconceptions about being content is that all desires disappear. A single person can be content and still long for marriage. For those who desire to be a parent or the person who desires a successful career, it’s the same thing: those are good desires, but we can pervert them by turning them into idols when we look to these things to give us satisfaction.
1. You know and believe God has your back
When we are discontent, we often believe we are alone, fighting for ourselves. The author of Hebrews writes, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5). Contentment is to know and rest in the fact that in all things, God will never leave you or forsake you.
2. You know and believe that God loves you
The reason we can call ourselves Christians is because God persistently loves us. It was he who revealed himself to us. It was he who pursued us, not us him. When we arrive at the Cross, we see all that Christ bore on our behalf—our suffering, our death, and our punishment. And in return, we get life. God loves you, and there isn’t anything that can take that away (Rom. 8:38–39).
3. You know and believe that God will meet your every need
Paul’s words in Philippians 4:10–20 point back to God’s provision in his life and the faith that God would provide for others. Contentment doesn’t mean God will give you whatever you want. It’s trusting that God in his providence is working out all things for your good and his glory (Rom. 8:28).
4. You know and believe that God is enough
There is nothing on this earth that can even come close to giving you lasting satisfaction. Nothing. We need to stop comparing what we have—or don’t have—to those around us (2 Cor. 10:12). When we fall into comparison, we get cheap answers or fixes to what we think can fix our discontentment. Asaph in Psalm 73 looked at the wicked and almost stumbled, but then realized that God was enough. “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:25–26).
We can only be content because God is who he says he is. Because of who he is and what he’s done, our identity, our worth, and our hope rests only in him. In nothing else will we find contentment.